Billionaires’ share of global wealth soars during pandemic

People stand beneath fall foliage and before high-rise buildings of the Manhattan city skyline in Central Park in New York on November 5, 2021. – America’s northeast is famous for its red, orange and yellow fall foliage but experts say climate change is dulling the colors and delaying peak season, causing concern for the region’s multibillion-dollar “leaf-peeping” tourist industry.
Warmer temperatures and heavier rainfall are keeping leaves greener for longer while extreme weather events like heatwaves and storms are stripping trees bare before getting to autumn, according to conservationists. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)


Agence France Presse

PARIS, France (AFP) — The share of global wealth of the world’s richest people soared at a record pace during the Covid pandemic, a report on inequality showed Tuesday.

Since 1995, the slice held by billionaires has risen from one percent to three percent, according to the World Inequality Report.

“This increase was exacerbated during the Covid pandemic. In fact, 2020 marked the steepest increase in global billionaires’ share of wealth on record,” the document said.

The club of the richest one percent has taken more than a third of all additional wealth accumulated since 1995, while the bottom 50 percent captured just two percent.

“After more than 18 months of Covid-19, the world is even more polarised,” Lucas Chancel, co-director of the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics, told AFP.

“While the wealth of billionaires rose by more than 3.6 trillion euros ($4 trillion), 100 million more people joined the ranks of extreme poverty,” said Chancel, noting that extreme poverty had been previously falling for 25 years.

A real-time ranking by Forbes magazine shows that the top 10 richest people each have a net worth exceeding $100 billion, with Tesla boss Elon Musk on top with $264.5 billion.

Handout picture released by the Brazilian Ministry of Communications showing Brazilian Minister of Communications Fabio Faria (L) and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk posing durig a meeting at the Tesla headquarters, in Austin, Texas, on November 16, 2021. – According to Faria, through the partnership with the companies of Musk, Brazil will “expand the connectivity and protection of the Amazon”. (Photo by Cleverson OLIVEIRA / Brazilian Ministry of Communications / AFP) 

Only one of the men is not American — LVMH luxury group chief Bernard Arnault — and all but two are tech industry leaders whose fortunes have been turbocharged by soaring company share prices.

The 228-page report, whose contributors include French economist Thomas Piketty, calls for a “modest progressive wealth tax on global multimillionaires” in order to redistribute wealth, along with measures to prevent tax evasion.

“Given the large volume of wealth concentration, modest progressive taxes can generate significant revenues for governments,” the report said.

© Agence France-Presse